Brazilian Style Bandit: Miguel Pupo
After sweeping three out of the five Latin American Pro Junior events in 2010, Pupo has earned himself the title of best under-20 surfer of the what could arguably be called the most talented continent in the world—South America.
The 19-year old doesn’t quite fit the Brazilian stereotype. He does have a smile on his face for most of the time, but prefers to hang out away from the crowds, hiding under a flat brim cap, rather than joking around. But when he gets up on a wave, it’s hard not to pay attention.
“He’s one of the most stylish surfers out of the new generation of Brazilians,” states fellow countryman and recent World Tour qualifier Alejo
Muniz, who grew up traveling and competing with Miguel. “If you put him on a fun-sized left, he’s one of the hardest guys around to beat.” The goofyfoot’s aerial game is one of his biggest strengths yet he’s the most stylish surfer from Brazil since Fabio Gouveia. The São Paulo native is now starting to see good results unfold in the big leagues. He finished the season at 51st in the new ASP ratings, getting a 3rd in the Canary Islands’ 6 star Prime event, and a 5th at the US Open. “That might’ve been my best result, due to Huntington’s media exposure,” he says.
But the young gun’s competitive hunger can be a two-way street. Although he’s rising fast through the rankings, Miguel’s focus on heat results might be leading him onto the same road taken by so many Brazilian “next-big-things”. Instead of taking a few years to mature his surfing—getting used to perfect waves and landing media exposure along the ride—all he wants is to put a singlet on. “I want to make it into the World Tour. No freesurfing—competition is what I’m really into.” And if the main goal is to make it to the top, his easygoing nature won’t always be a plus. “I can’t see him hassling for a wave during a heat. His personality keeps him from doing that,” explains Alejo Muniz.
Growing up in a family of surfers, his father Wagner was one of the country’s top competitors back in the day, he never drifted his focus off the sport. If he can keep his feet on the right path, and the same mellow smile on his face, Miguel Pupo may soon be facing the world’s best.—Matias Lovro